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Benedict Cumberbatch, an Actor in Transition: An Unauthorised Performance Biography [Paperback]

Lynette Porter , Lynnette Porter
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

10 Jun 2013
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hobbit trilogy, Twelve Years a Slave, August: Osage County, The Fifth Estate; Hedda Gabler, After the Dance, Frankenstein; Hawking, To the Ends of the Earth, The Last Enemy, Parade's End, and, of course, Sherlock. For most actors, these stellar cinematic, theatrical, and television events would be the highlights of a lifetime's work. On Benedict Cumberbatch's résumé they are only a few of many entries. Especially since 2010, his performances have garnered a plethora of best actor awards, both in the theatre (Evening Standard Theatre Award, Critics Circle Theatre Award, and Olivier Award), by playing the dual roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature in the National Theatre's Frankenstein, and on television (Broadcasting Press Guild Award, Critics Choice Television Award, Crime Thriller Award, and TV Choice Award), by starring as the titular Holmes in the BBC's Sherlock. Add these and other recent accolades to nearly a decade s nominations and awards (such as the Golden Nymph as best actor in Hawking), and it's easy to see why Benedict Cumberbatch is often hailed as the actor of his generation. Cumberbatch's body of work further includes indie films, radio plays and series, television documentaries, live dramatic readings, multimedia advertisements, and even the occasional stint as a fashion model. He often shares an intriguing perspective on his profession, as evidenced in sometimes controversial interviews. He has become so much in demand that online box offices crash when tickets for his performances go on sale, and, before a Cheltenham Literature Festival Q&A session, fans overwhelmed Twitter when so many responded immediately to a call for questions. Cumberbatch consistently is a top name on lists ranging from sex appeal to global influence. In 2012 he beat David Beckham in the former and U.S. President Barack Obama in the latter. Increasingly, part of Cumberbatch's job involves the role of celebrity. Benedict Cumberbatch is at a pivotal point in his profession, and his career trajectory especially as documented in entertainment media permits a closer examination of just what it means to be a celebrity or star in Britain or the U.S. and how an actor may be perceived very differently in London or Hollywood. This performance biography is an analysis of a man in transition from working actor to multimedia star, as well as the balance between actor and celebrity. It looks at what makes this actor so well suited to play one of popular culture's iconic characters, Sherlock Holmes, and how Sherlock is so well suited to propel Cumberbatch toward greater global fame.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: MX Publishing (10 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780924364
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780924366
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 331,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Writing is the way I experience the world. I was one of those kids who enjoyed English class and wrote poems during recess. I wrote plays in which my younger brother and I provided all the voices. (He grew up to be a writer, too.) As a master's and doctoral student, I turned to technical communication as my writing outlet, but, after writing several books and even more training guides, I returned to my first love: popular culture. In the past decade, I've written about television series (LOST, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes) and films (especially The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit). In my time away from being a humanities and communications professor, I am a contributing editor for online popular culture magazine PopMatters, where I write a monthly film/television column, Deep Focus. My most recent book takes me in yet another direction within popular culture: celebrity studies. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching or listening to Benedict Cumberbatch's work in film, theatre, radio, and television. I hope you'll like my analysis of his work (Benedict Cumberbatch, In Transition: An Unauthorised Performance Biography) as much as I enjoyed studying this talented actor's career.

Writing also has been the catalyst for trips around the world, sometimes for book signings, more often for research, and always for pleasure. In the past year I've had the good fortune to talk, however briefly, with directors (Peter Jackson, Danny Boyle) at events surrounding the premiere of their latest films and to chat with actors, some who agreed to be interviewed for Deep Focus. I traced Bilbo Baggins' cinematic steps in New Zealand and visited 221B Baker Street in London. I saw as many plays and films as I could cram into my schedule. I worked in film or theatre archives and libraries. Every day I write about what I see or learn, and much of it becomes a chapter, column, or blog entry.

I revel in the acts of research and writing, and I hope that the words I've written somewhere, at some time, may have given you something to think about or enjoy.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something entirely new and excellent 7 July 2013
Something entirely new and excellent from MX is "Benedict Cumberbatch, in Transition: An Unauthorised Performance Biography" by Lynnette Porter. Dr Porter is the editor of "Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century: Essays on New Adaptations", so I was confident that the new book would not be simple hagiography. As title and subtitle suggest, this is a survey of Cumberbatch's career as an actor, touching on his extra-curricular life only to the extent that it influences his acting or is influenced by the transition from jobbing actor to star to celebrity. The facts are meticulously (but not tediously) referenced, and the writing, as one would expect, is both literate and engaging. "Sherlock" is the turning-point, but it's good to be reminded of the extent and importance of the actor's career, before, during and after the breakthrough to stardom - acclaimed rôles in "Rhinoceros" and "Hedda Gabler" at the Royal Court, "After the Dance" at the Old Vic, and "Frankenstein" at the National Theatre; performances as Van Gogh and Stephen Hawking on television; leading parts in "Copenhagen", "Neverwhere" and the continuing comedy series "Cabin Pressure" on radio; "War Horse", "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" in the cinema, and his emergence as a real film star in "Star Trek: Into Darkness". Benedict Cumberbatch is a great actor, unpretentious, honest and dedicated. He's also a genuinely nice man.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Read 21 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as, being a Cumberbabe, I wanted to know more about the actor, but was eager to stay away from garbage such as "The B.C. Handbook". "In Transition" turned out to be exactly what the subtitle promised: a performance biography. Instead of feeding her readers silly fan girl type stuff, Lynnette Porter offered a serious, well researched, eloquently written und perfectly spell-checked piece of work, at the end of which I felt entertained, well informed and - dare I say? - educated. As a previous reviewer stated, "In Transition" only touches on the actor's private life if and when it influences (or is influenced by) his work. That very fact makes this book a very pleasant read instead of making me, the reader, feel like a voyeur or stalker. Also, the absence of illustrations in this book adds to its seriousness and gives it a sense of sincerity. Having said this, at the same time the author's fondness for the subject of her book does shine through, lending welcome warmth to this volume.

Whilst reading the book I had the distinct impression that the author has an academic background. Although the book is entirely readable, humorous and entertaining, it is so well put together, has such thorough notes, bibliography and index, that I thought by myself, I'd wish Ms Porter would submit the volume as a doctoral thesis. Looking up Ms Porter's Amazon Page just before typing up this review, I was not surprised to see that she is, indeed, a `master's and doctoral student'. This, of course, explains her very high quality work on Benedict Cumberbatch.

In summary, I would have no hesitation in recommending "In Transistion" to anyone interested in learning more about Mr Cumberbatch's career and choice of roles, or indeed, anyone interested in the art of acting. Having thoroughly enjoyed this book of Ms Porter's, I'm looking forward to exploring more of her work as listed on her Amazon Page.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading 7 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This books is well organized and informative. What I liked most of all is that the author gives references to every fact mentioned. There is nothing based on rumours or suppositions. Of course, the book would be more presentable if there were some images but it doesn't spoil it. Very positive impression.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars for aficionados 15 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is quite a serious book reviewing the work that Benedict Cumberbatch has done in theatre ,radio , television and on film. It goes deep into his acting motivation and is quite scholarly .if you are looking for a book of gossip this won't be the book for you
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cumberbatch 9 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Present for a Cumberbatch fan, she was over the moon with this book and of course any Cumberbatch fan would love it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In transition 27 Aug 2013
By CarolM
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good book and well written, exploring the professional life of Benedict Cumberbatch. I agree with the writer that the best is yet to come!
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